Last 10: Tampa Bay (3-7-0); Carolina (5-3-2)
Season Series: Tonight marks the conclusion of the six-game season series between the two Southeast Division rivals. Tampa Bay hosts Carolina for the third time tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum, at which they are unbeaten this year against the Hurricanes. The Lightning are seeking their third consecutive win against Carolina, which would match the total number of wins to date in 2009-10 versus the division rivals. The Hurricanes are looking to beat Tampa Bay for the third time this season and for the first time since Nov. 21, after also earning a win in the season-series opener on Oct. 6.
The Big Story: Three out five meetings this season between the Bolts and Canes have been decided by just one goal, including two in overtime. Tampa Bay has posted a 2-0-1 record in those one-goal games this season against Carolina, while outscoring the Hurricanes 7-6.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays in its second match of a four-game home stand tonight, which is the team’s last stretch of games at the St. Pete Times Forum this season. The Bolts dropped the first game of the stint on Friday in a 5-0 decision to the New York Rangers. Antero Niittymaki made 14 saves on 15 shots in relief of Mike Smith, and Steve Downie suffered a scary injury in the first period after he took a stick to the ribs and was taken to the hospital, but returned in the third period after passing routine medical observation. The team is still missing several key components due to injuries, with four out of the five players currently out being defensemen.
HURRICANES – Carolina comes into the St. Pete Times Forum tonight for a brief one-game stint away from home before returning to the RBC Center on Thursday. Carolina has lost two straight after winning three of the previous four, with its latest defeat coming at the hands of Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, who shutout the Hurricanes 4-0 on Saturday. Brodeur stopped all 26 shots to earn his 599th career win, an NHL record. The loss marked the second time in eight days that Carolina had been shutout and also served as the team’s fifth defeat in its last seven games at home.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Steve Downie has points in five of his last seven and defenseman Mike Lundin has recorded points in four out of the last six games. Martin St. Louis has amassed five goals and 14 assists in his last 17 games, while linemate Steven Stamkos has 21 goals and 20 assists in his last 31 contests.
- Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen each have four points in as many games for Carolina, while Chad LaRose and Eric Staal each have a goal and a pair of assists in their last four.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING - Ryan Malone (upper body, day-to-day), David Hale (lower body, out), Matt Walker (lower back, day-to-day), Matt Smaby (back spasms, day-to-day) and Victor Hedman (lower body, day-to-day). HURRICANES – Tuomo Ruutu (shoulder, out for season), Alexandre Picard (upper body, week-to-week) and Tim Gleason (foot, week-to-week).
Quotable: “If I’m on a two-on-one with Steven Stamkos , trust me, I want to give him the puck. I’d be passing it as soon as possible. Maybe at center ice I’m giving it to him. But that’s just because he’s a dangerous guy. He’s a heck of a shooter.” – Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet
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